This is a real update. No need for alarm.

*Oh Jesus god. Blo.gs is being such a pain. Look, basically if the blogs update page only says ‘Jog - The Blog,’ I haven’t really updated. I’ll always put some dumb comment after the title like ‘Jog - The Blog: I Ate a Sandwich Today’ or something like that. Otherwise, wily old blo.gs is playing wicked tricks on us. I tried getting it to say its name backwards but it didn’t return to its home dimension, so that option’s out.

*Gilliam Dept:

What do you do when a filmmaker you like makes a movie you think might be brilliant, but you absolutely despise it? Terry Gilliam’s Tideland is, at the least, about a dozen times more imaginative and deeply felt than The Brothers Grimm, which suffered from pervasive plainness. But Tideland is so damned unpleasant, and not necessarily in a “take this trip through the dark so you can appreciate the light” kind of way… Aside from the hauntingly beautiful final scene, and a moment in the middle where the wheat field becomes an ocean, nearly every flight of fantasy in Tideland is turbulent, jangled and frankly horrifying. No damn fun.”

- Noel Murray, of The Onion A.V. Club, reporting from Toronto, and reminding me an awful lot of the critical consensus in regards to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, though minus the bit about brilliance.

After the compromised Brothers Grimm, it’s good to see Gilliam this wholly invested in a film, but he doesn’t know when to pull back on the throttle and allow the audience to get its footing… there’s bound to be some people out there who will consider it a masterpiece. (Though I haven’t met any of them yet.) For me and many others, it was relentlessly unpleasant, something to be endured more than appreciated.”

- Scott Tobias, ditto all around.

“…I saw Terry Gilliam's Tideland, which everyone I'd spoken to had warned me away from. (One guy told me it's the worst film of the festival so far; another called it "unreleasable.") This is why I wanted to see it, frankly. I like seeing films that everyone has trashed because I always seem to find something about them that I like or admire. But not this time. Tideland feels Gilliam-esque (visually alluring and semi-pastoral at times with a Fisher King-like fetish for dust and grunge and curio clutter) but it was very tough going, for the most part. I'm talking about zero tension, funereal pacing, no engagement in the characters to the point of engendering hostility, a maddening sense of directorial indulgence, etc… I really can't do this, I told myself. I can't sit through another Terry Gilliam stylistic free-for-all masturbation movie. Others had the same notion.”

- Jeffrey Wells, on Hollywood Elsewhere, offering one of the more damning accounts of audience abandonment and retreat. (not a permalink)

Unlike the critically-reviled The Brothers Grimm, this one received no studio interference. Gilliam had total creative control. So there was every reason we could expect a "return to form." What we get, sadly, is easily the worst production Gilliam has ever been involved in, either behind the camera or in front of it. Tideland is, by turns, a complete bore and a creepy experience. And I don't mean "creepy" in a positive sense… It's hard to say for whom this movie was made. I can't think of a demographic to which it will appeal. Another critic suggested that Gilliam probably made it only for himself, which is likely the case. But, if this is a picture that the filmmaker really wanted to produce, it raises questions about the creative direction of his career… This is a rare movie about which everyone seems to share an opinion: it stinks.”

- James Berardinelli, Reel Views, suggesting the same critical consensus that I’m discovering for myself.

I'll admit that I don't really know what to think. Part of me really admires Tideland, for it's sense of purpose and refusal to be swayed, but most of me never wants to see it again… Gilliam is known as an audacious, unrestrained filmmaker, but he's never gone so far as he does here. The man seems to have given up on the very notion of limits… a part of me will be shocked if Tideland makes it to theatres.”

- Russ Fischer, CHUD. Did I mention I really want to see this film?

*Yeah, I’ve been following the Toronto Film Festival reactions. Other generally-held views on popular coming attractions seem to indicate Cronenberg’s A History of Violence being great (expected, given its prior festival appearances), Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown being awful, Guy Ritchie’s Revolver being not much better, Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble being mighty precious but still good-to-great, Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride being both perfectly attractive and the very definition of ‘minor,’ Beat Takeshi’s Takashis’ being generally good if heavily insular, and The Brothers Quay’s The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes being glacial and odd, just as we all expected.

Er, at least I think The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes is a popular coming attraction.

Full Moon Fever

This puppy is out tomorrow, priced at $12.95, published by AiT/Planet-Lar. It’s a fun little thing, nothing too complicated or weighty, but largely irritant-free. It’s perfectly sleek sci-fi/horror amusement, written by The Intimates and Gødland scribe Joe Casey and Comic World News editor Caleb Gerard, with able art from Damian Couceiro. You’ll remember Couceiro’s art from AiT/Planet-Lar head Larry Young’s Proof of Concept - he did the visuals on Hemoglobin, the one with the vampire. Actually, if you happened to like that particular short at all, you’ll probably dig what’s waiting in here.

You’ve probably heard the concept already (probably from me): werewolves on the moon! Because, you see, if the moon’s always out… aw, you get it. This isn’t a comedy, though (even if there’s bits of humor), nor does much happen with that eminently quotable concept - it’s actually kept mostly in the background. What we do get is a pleasant enough creature feature, a ‘beast on the loose’ thingy not particularly unlike Alien, that uses the reader’s assumed knowledge of werewolf lore as an amusing (albeit mostly unstated) backdrop, practically an Easter Egg.

The plot, what’s there of it, sees a cadre of space plumbers (well, ‘waste disposal technicians’ actually, but ‘space plumbers v. werewolves on the moon’ just happens to sound better to my untrained ear) traveling with a pair of military goons to a lunar research station, which turns out to be mysteriously abandoned. Or so it seems - soon they’re being picked off by hairy beasts left and right, Couceiro playing up the ‘wolf’ side of the man-wolf equation, his lycanthropes extra-large beasts that occasionally stand upright, drool spewing from their chops. The high-contrast, thick-shadowed art is appropriate for the book’s vacant permanent night setting, and while the characters and backgrounds aren’t terribly detailed, they’re effectively fast and expressive. I liked the expressions on that one wolf’s face during the big zero-gravity fight scene.

Yes, of course there’s a zero-gravity werewolf fight scene; how couldn’t there be? Casey and Gerard’s script does about everything you’d expect, and even a tiny bit more (I’m talking the minimalist mentions of the lead plumber’s past, and the fact that the obligatory shower scene is given to a male cast member). No, it’s not particularly original, at least not in the parameters of the monster-stalking brand of horror story. One might be tempted to fault the creative team for not going quite as far into the inherent absurdity of their concept as they could (c’mon… werewolves on the moon!), and there’s probably something to that. But I don’t know. This is a very well-tuned, crisply-executed piece of pulp, and that’s something by itself.

There’s also a bonus afterward by Casey, and a 13-page excerpt from the script included for your edification. Combined with about 70 pages of story, it’s a nice little fast-reading package. Actually, there’s not much more to say beyond that. If 'space plumbers v. werewolves on the moon' sounds good to you, go at it.